President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004 could have been prevented if the late President Corazon Aquino had included her family’s sugar plantation in the land reform program.
“How many killings took place there? Several people died there. She could have included Luisita," Duterte said in his speech in Malacañang.
He was referring to the massacre in November 2004 in which seven farmers were killed near the gate of the Cojuangco-owned hacienda after a violent dispersal. Hundreds of people were also injured, including women and children.
The farmers had been pressing for land reform in the sugar mill owned by the Aquino family.
“It could have been avoided if she had included Luisita then. She was the President. She was in control of everything,” Duterte said.
Duterte also took a jab at Aquino last week, saying she had only been popular “for losing the husband in the hands of Mr. Marcos.”
Aquino made the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program the centerpiece of her administration’s legislative agenda, but she was criticized for Hacienda Luisita’s Stock Distribution Option.
Hacienda Luisita Inc
. forged an agreement with thousands of farmers to have shares of stock in the corporation instead of land. The stock distribution plan has been in place since 1989.
Under Aquino’s administration, a total of 898,420 landless tenants and farmers became recipients of land titles and support services, but the program only accomplished 22.5 percent of the land distribution during her term.
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